Many people with pets consider their four-legged fur babies a part of the family. They love and dote on them, take them to the park, cuddle with them on the couch, and spend hours every day loving on them. Andy Snyder, City of La Porte Fire Chief, suggests people also consider their pets as another member of the family when taking precautions to ensure their safety before or during a fire. “Some of the same considerations you would give to small children can easily be attributed to your pets.”
As someone that has lost a pet in a fire, this is something that is near and dear to my heart. National Pet Fire Safety Day is July 15th. Here are some ways you can protect your pets.
In my previous life, I was a distance runner and would be gone for over an hour at a time.I remember coming home after a run one day to the smell of gas in the house. It only took a moment to find the culprit – my spry little cocker spaniel was sitting on the counter. On her way up, she bumped a stove control knob and opened the natural gas valve.
Chief Snyder explains that we should prevent accessibility to the stove control knobs and keep items that could easily catch fire off the top of the stove. The knobs can accidentally be turned on and either ignite, which is a danger to something lying close by, or if they don’t ignite they will emit natural gas which can create an explosion hazard. According to Chief Snyder, his department has had two separate instances in recent years of house cats turning on a stove burner and causing a fire.
Snyder also said the same consideration should be given to keeping pets away from candles, fireplaces or any other type of open flame. It is also a good idea to be aware of open electrical wires or cords that pets could mistake for chew toys. Even if the pet is not directly harmed by chewing through the cord, the integrity of the outer covering may be compromised which can easily lead to a fire.
Snyder stressed the importance of having an emergency evacuation plan in place and including pets as part of this plan. He said if you can easily grab your pet on the way out, you should do so. Do not do so if it jeopardizes your own safety.
“It is also a good idea to know your pets’ habits throughout the day and night so if an emergency arises you know where to find them. Even if you are unable to take them out with you, but you know where your pet goes as a safe place, you can relay this information to firefighters which will be a tremendous help in trying to locate the animals.”
Snyder also recommends having contact information for your veterinarian readily available in case of injury during a fire. Many veterinarian offices can board your pet in the immediate aftermath of a fire if necessary.
A monitored alarm system can also be considered for your home. In the event you are not home at the time of a fire, this system will alert the fire department much quicker than other means. This will save critical minutes for the survival of your home and any pets inside.
Thank you to Chief Snyder from the City of La Porte Fire Department for providing some insight into keeping our four-legged family members safe.